Shidduch Euphemisms


I used to be naïve and think that words meant what they sounded like or what the dictionary said they meant. I used to think that what people said was what they meant. But in shidduch dating, key words are laden with more meaning than Webster would know what to do with. So much is said between the lines that the pages are mostly blank!


Take “nice”. I’ve been told that “nice” is the alarm bell for “lacks personality.” Meaning, if someone calls you “nice” it means there’s nothing else to say about you.


I find that odd because I have a brother who, if I had to sum him up in one word, it would be “nice.” Seriously: the word was made up for him. He is kind, considerate, always looking out for others’ welfare, he truly likes everyone, he’s honest but never cruel… And he’s not trying, or anything—he’s genuine. He’s just a really nice guy. There’s no other way to say it. (Except maybe “super-mentch”.) So I guess it’s good nobody contacted me about him for shidduch questions. I would have said “He’s so nice.”


Then there is “open-minded.”

“Whatever you do, do not put open-minded on your shidduch profile thingy,” one friend informed me.

“Why not?” I asked, all greenhorn innocence.

“Because, like, well, let me put it this way. When you say you’re open-minded, what do you mean? You mean, like, that you like all Jews and you totally don’t think any one derech is better than another, and you don’t think non-Jews are like totally evil, and you think about new ideas instead of just laughing at them, and stuff like that, right?”


“Well guess what darling, I have news for you. The guys who write ‘open-minded’ about themselves? They’re, like, open to a new lifestyle. One that doesn’t necessarily include, like, halacha and things. And you don’t want that type, believe me. I totally went out with enough of them before someone clued me in.”


And don’t you love “well maybe a bit pudgy”? How can you know what to trust when people exaggerate like that? One wonders what description they use for people who are a bit pudgy. Skinny, probably. And thin people – that would make them emaciated. Let’s be dan likaf zechus. The reason men ask for dress sizes specifically is because it’s the only objective indicator available in a world of liars.


Then there is the way someone answers. If they say, “I don’t know,” it either means, “I really don’t know,” or it means, “I really don’t want to talk about that because it’s not pleasant.” You’ve got to hope that your parents are on top of the vocal inflections that impart the exact meaning.


And age! I always knew that women are titchy about revealing their age, but I never knew that it starts before marriage. I recently heard that a woman never ages beyond 21 until she’s married, while men rarely surpass 25. I suppose it works until the wrinkles set in.


There are doubtless more that I’m missing.

Something about this system strikes me as ah shtickel off, but I can’t quite put my finger on what…

13 thoughts on “Shidduch Euphemisms

  1. it’s so pathetically true, that my aunt (who got married in her late thirties) asked a rabbi if she can say she’s 35 when she was 37, because when she said 37 people assumed she was just saying she was 37 but was really 39… so the rabbi told her that she should say she’s 35, because in the shiduch language world that means 37! so it’s saying the truth… I wonder how that works in “what size is she?” is a size 10 really a 14… I’m not sure what’s the big deal of all this altogether…

  2. What about the word “chein”? At its best, it should describe something every Jewish girl should have–a sweetness, a quality that can’t quite be translated into English but it’s a wonderful thing to have. In the shidduch world, unless you’ve already gone on and on about how pretty a girl is, it means she’s not. How’s that for twisted?!

  3. now you’ve hit upon one of my annoyances.
    i just tell people that i’m not lying, and that i mean what i say. if they want to read into what i’m saying, then i can’t do anything about it.
    but i do know that when i get called for info, i often get a call back later saying my info was right on the mark. especially when i preface about the truthfulness bit.

    i really think that all these euphemisms depend on whom you are speaking to.

  4. my father often refers to girls as good looking –example:”oh thier daughter is so goodlooking,,,im sure she’ll be grabbed up by the boys”
    so when a father of a boy, one that seemed VERY yeshivish much more so than my dad asked about a friend of mine’s looks I said she always looks good, shes tall and thin and very good looking (between the lines meaning attractive, pretty, tall,thin and well groomed/dressed-seriously, she is!!) I just felt it was more the type to use my father lingo rather than saying, yup she’s drop dead gorgous its dangerous to send your son out with her…
    and my friends mother called me crying that the boy said no bec I said she wasnt pretty
    you cant win. I dont do information anymore.

  5. Mrs. Mouse that is pathetic!!! It’s true giving information is so hard. I always make sure to give a big thank you to my friends after they “do a shidduch call” for me.

  6. the next time someone brings up a shidduch by telling me “she’s pretty” I’m going to reply “sheker hachein, v’hevel hayofis, yiru et hashem…”

    either that or simply say “so? nu, whats the point?”

  7. Stopped asking the looks question a long time ago, too subjective.

    For the record: Yoni, the best response is “Compared to what?”.

  8. Girls always lie about their friends. Whether this practice is aimed at deception, girls truly have very liberal standards of beauty, or they suffer from impaired vision, it is impossible to take what girls say about their peers at face value. Thus a scientific equation has been developed to combat such inaccuracies. The Law of Minus One. If a girls extolls her friend as “gorgeous”, “beautiful” or the like, she is average-looking. Because a girl cannot describe her friend as average, “pretty” or “cute” therefore derives less than average. If her appearance is skipped, “she has a great personality”, head for the hills.
    If you’re wondering why there is no code for a girl who is actually good-looking, it is because if you are a frum guy, none of your friends wives, neigbors or relatives have any available good-looking friends. Not sure why that is.
    (Also, “really fun” is always code for plus-size. Therefore; lots of fun= lots of lbs.)

  9. If someone’s looking for negatives, or maybe just paranoid, they can twist anything around. Face it, there’s no right thing to say with these people.

    Speaking of chen, what about adelkeit? I think it’s a very desireable quality. Translation: dull. WTH?!

  10. I like this blog 🙂
    We’ve covered many of the same topics, you know.

    Anyway, the Shidduch Euphamisms.
    You forgot “quiet” and “aidel” BIIIGG No-Nos!

    Someone asked me about a girl who is average looking. I didn’t want to lie. So I said, “she isn’t UGLY” which kind of ruins it. I did tell her she “isn’t a supermodel”…I don’t know…if you say she’s average looking, nobody will even give her a chance, and that’s not fair!!!!

    Also, “short term learning” has so many connotations…who know which one to believe…

    And yes, “Open minded” means too many things. It’s become insane.

    TRUST NO ONE! (Except for me of course)

  11. omigosh. Well when I first read this blog, I was gonna bring up the “chein” thing, but then saw that someone beat me to it. Yeah, “bacheint” means ugly.
    By the way, why in heavens name do people spend so much time finding out what he/she looks like?!?! That’s what the date is for! And anyway, are you so drop gorgeous, you egotistical fly in my face? Age, health, family type etc. these are things you want to find out. But height, weight, looks, favorite color, favorite barbie, get a grip. (Ok i’m exaggerating with the fave barbie) but back to the subject at hand, the world of shidduchim is messed up. Shadchan told my mother that my date (now baruch Hashem my husband bless him) was older than he actually was. when my mother found out his real age and asked the shadchan um hey what’s up- he shrugged. He shrugged!
    It’s amazing.

  12. Only ‘slightly chubby’ to mean ‘fat’? That is almost truthful (at least in the right direction)! 🙂 A shadchanit once described a really obese guy to me as ‘he looks very sweet’.

  13. Pingback: Friday Repost: Did you Say What I Thought You Said? « Bad for Shidduchim

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